New Testament in 6 months – day 20

21 Apr

Matthew 24:29-25:30
“Immediately after the distress of those days  ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master, ’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

This passage gives us a stark reminder of the decision that the world will experience when Jesus returns. It also reminds us to be ready, vigilant and on guard, in preparation for that day.

The division is one that goes against so much that we often hear from those who are clueless about religious belief. So often they will declare that all faiths are the same in the end, or “All faiths lead to God” as though it’s a matter of which scenery you choose to see on the way. Jesus is very clear, when He returns there will be friends and family divided, as some will be taken and the rest remain. For an idea of what it might be like, see the rapture segment from the first Left Behind film. There will be a division of those who believe and those who don’t.

Then Jesus moves on to talk about being prepared. As He points out, no one but the Father knows when it will happen, so how can people be ready for something that will come without warning? Jesus gives us 4 examples.
First He talks about what happened with Noah. Noah warned that a flood was coming but was rejected. The people around him continued to do what they did all the way up to Noah shutting the ark’s door and the rain starting to fall. Then, as the flood waters rose, they begged to be let in, but it was too late.
The next example is of a servant left in charge of his master’s house. He decides to abuse his position and beats the other servants and gets drunk. But then his master returns unexpectedly and catches him in the act and he is punished and rejected.
The third example is the wise and foolish virgins. 5 have oil and 5 can’t be bothered to get any. Then the cry goes up that the bridegroom has arrived, in the middle of the night, and the foolish virgins need oil. They have to search for some and this means they are late and can’t get in to the feast.
The final example is the parable of the talents, where a master gives various amounts of money to 3 slaves. 2 do something with their money but the third does nothing. The master returns and rewards the first 2, but then points out that the third servant didn’t even have a go at doing something with what he was given and so rejects him and kicks him out.
All 4 examples, when put together, tell us this:
That we must be prepared for when Jesus comes, that we must at least try to do what God tells us to do.
The story of Noah points out that Noah listened to God and did what was asked of him. So it should be with us.
The servant left in charge should have looked after his master’s household, but instead spent his time doing what he wanted instead. Just as was the case with this servant, we are left here on earth to look after God’s house, the Church. If we abuse that trust by not caring for it then we will be left outside.
The foolish virgins so didn’t do what was needed to be prepared for when the bridegroom arrived. If we are not living our lives as God asks us to then we will not be ready for the feast that will happen on Jesus’ arrival. We will be locked out and remain unknown to God.
The third slave was given something by his master and and, unlike the other 2, did nothing with it. We are given gifts by God and a Church to use them in. If we do nothing with them and do not seek to care for God’s Church with them then we too will be left outside when our Master returns.
Use what God gives you and do as He asks you to and you will be prepared for that day.


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Archbishop Cranmer

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